The Baltimore Ravens ran away with the AFC North despite a magical season for the Cleveland Browns.
But if they’re not going to have a bye week before the playoffs, the Browns can do the next best thing.
Kevin Stefanski plans to rest some starters for the team’s Week 18 matchup against the Bengals, and The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov posted a list on Twitter of those expected to sit out.
Due to rest and/or injury reasons, the #Browns will be without QB Joe Flacco, DE Myles Garrett, WR Amari Cooper, S Juan Thornhill, CB Greg Newsome II, K Dustin Hopkins, CB Mike Ford, and LB Anthony Walker on Sunday against the Bengals.
Cleveland is locked in as the No. 5 seed. pic.twitter.com/gYBr8VgVlS
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 5, 2024
Leading the list is Joe Flacco, whose regular season ends with four straight wins and four straight 300-plus yard passing games.
Myles Garrett won’t add to his sack total in the middle of a Defensive Player of the Year campaign.
Other players will rest in hopes of allowing recent injuries and aches to heal better.
They include Juan Thornhill, Amari Cooper, Greg Newsome II, Dustin Hopkins, Mike Ford, and Anthony Walker.
Stefanski can’t rest everybody, but the list is surprising for some players who are not included.
Protecting Denzel Ward or resting Dalvin Tomlinson and Zadarius Smith is not in the Browns’ equation, but fans should expect those players to yield a considerable percentage of snaps to their backups off the bench.
Journeyman quarterback Jeff Driskel becomes the Browns’ fifth starting quarterback this season.
Running back Pierre Strong could see the bulk of the carries against a susceptible Bengals run defense and defensive end Alex Wright should have plenty of time to earn a sack for the fourth consecutive game.
Cleveland is locked into the AFC’s fifth seed, while Cincinnati is officially eliminated, but the Bengals might find a little inspiration in trying to avoid a winless record in the division this year.